Air and Odours

Managing Odours is difficult. The impacts of an odour event, including the number of complaints arising from the event, can be influenced by five factors – frequency (F), intensity (I), duration (D), offensiveness (O) and location (L) of the event (FIDOL). People will tolerate an odour for only about 10 minutes before complaining.

Operations that commonly cause odours include: iron and steel production, oil refineries, foundries, rendering and food processing, landfills, sewers, and paint and printing operations. These pollutants can also react with other pollutants to create odorous by-products. Odour is typically caused by a mixture of compounds, which is why odour is often so difficult to describe. Moreover the intensity of odours varies with industry location, size, and type, production practices, season, temperature, humidity, time of day, and wind speed and direction. The presence of other odours, e.g., exhaust fumes or smoke, can also intensify an odour or mask an odour.

Human reactions to industrial odours are influenced by personal preferences, opinions, experiences, and olfactory system sensitivity. One person’s perception of odour can be quite different from another person’s and can vary over time. People can become less sensitive after repeated exposures to an odour, while others, more sensitive. Furthermore, some people may enjoy a particular odour, e.g., roasting coffee, while others may find the same odour annoying.

Schedule 3 of O. Reg. 419/05 was amended to include 10-minute odour-based standards for Total Reduced Sulphur (TRS), hydrogen sulphide (H2S) and mercaptans that were calculated using 50 per cent Odour Detection Threshold (ODT). Facilities will be required to comply with the new standards by 2013 unless they have been phased in earlier or have been approved to use another standard.

To Report an Odour Complaint:

Ministry of the Environment Conservation and Parks
Monday to Fridays – 9:00am to 4:30pm
Phone: 905-521-7650

Any other time call the 24-hour Spills Action Centre at 1-800-268-6060

Be Prepared to:

  1. Indicate your location.
  2. Indicate time of day problem observed.
  3. Describe the smell and possible direction.

Further Information:

Environmental Commissioner of Ontario: ECO Report 2007/2008 Part 3- Ministry Environmental Decisions-  Developing an Odour Policy Framework in Ontario – http://eco.on.ca/eng/index.php/pubs/eco-publications/2007-08-AR/2007-08-ar-toc.php